Duke University chemists may soon make it possible for physicians to diagnose skin cancers without having to resort to invasive biopsies. Warren Warren, the James B. Duke Professor of chemistry, radiology and biomedical engineering, and director of Duke's new Center for Molecular and Biomedical Imaging, and his team are developing a laser based system that can capture chemical and structural changes activities beneath the surface of the skin. This system was demonstrated at the conference of the American Physical Society in March 2007, and, in May 2007, it was showcased at an international conference on laser advances.

Highlights of the laser-based system to diagnose skin cancer
a. This is a non-invasive technique.
b. Hemoglobin and melanin inside suspect skin moles are exited by the beaming of highly controlled laser pulses on to them.
c. Two laser beams beaming different colored lights are used.
d. The lasers are pulsed on the skin only for a thousand trillionths of a second at a time so that there is no overheating.
e. A microscope outside the skin is used to magnify the the glow of the hemoglobin- and melanin-bearing structures.
f. Computers are used to view the three-dimensional cellular-scale images.
g. This makes it possible for doctors to see a millimeter below the skin's surface.